Thursday, September 28, 2006

It’s the taxes stupid

New York Stock Exchange building
Today as Dow Jones Industrial average closed just a few points below its all time high, recorded on January 14th of 2000, virtually erasing all losses from the most recent “great recession” (that regardless of the fact that oil prices are still far above what once was said to be disastrous levels) it’s time to confront yet another misconception instilled in us by those who ultimately benefits from it.

It is a common belief that regulating economic growth is an extremely complicated and delicate matter. But in fact economic growth is simply inversely proportionate to taxation levels with several years of lag time. A sharp drop in taxation levels during Reagan’s administration caused an economic boom several years later, but steadily rising taxes during both Bush the elder’s and Clinton’s administrations brought about a recession that was reversed only by current administration’s tax cuts a few years ago. I’ll spare you citing earlier examples as all this has been brought up many times before.

So, you ask, if achieving economic growth is so easy, why doesn’t every administration (and Congress) just do it? Why every time things start looking up we keep raising taxes up until we slip into another recession? It’s because some politicians see economic growth as an opportunity to collect “excess” money and use it to gain popularity by paying off their potential voters (directly or indirectly). Some even think they really help people and thus rightfully deserve their votes, but in fact all they do is make their voters dependent, “hooked up” on government help. Making more and more people dependent on government help and at the same time undermining the source of government’s income – economic growth, is a downward spiral that can be broken only by reducing taxes just as George W. Bush and Congress did a few years ago.

So on this day let us congratulate President George W. Bush and Republican Congress for job well done in putting the results of past two administration’s tax policy behind us.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The end of oil dependency

Why are all proposed solutions to our oil dependency problem either economic or scientific? Why not try a political or shell I say diplomatic approach? How about a peace process? Peace based on “oil in exchange for peace” principle. It’s very simple: we call up the oil producing countries, and let them know how much oil they must give us monthly to preserve peace (with us).

Just think of the great boost this would give our economy. Lower taxes and what’s most important peace in the world!

Sounds absurd? But how is that different from the Middle East peace in exchange for land process? Tell me.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Gone unnoticed

The crowd
With the entire media attention focused on mad, oil-intoxicated speeches of Iranian Hitler-want-to-be president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Venezuelan admirer Hugo Chavez, largely unnoticed has gone massive Israel solidarity rally on the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday, September 20th. Unnoticed to a degree that left me with an unsettling impression that only gatherings that involve hate speech and/or burning or breaking things deserve media attention nowadays and this one was nothing like it.

“Christians United for Israel” signs
Nevertheless the event featured speakers such as New York State governor George Pataki and gathered at by my own estimate about ten thousand people. While “We Stand with Israel” were the most common signs seen, there where lots of people carrying signs that read “Christians United for Israel”, many of whom (I have heard) traveled great distances to attend this event. As a Jew and an Israel supporter I express my deepest gratitude and sympathy to them.

Sign reads: “Liar! Denier! I am a Holocaust Survivor”
There were also some one-of-a-kind, homemade signs. One of them that touched my heart was carried by an elderly man and read “Liar! Denier! I am a Holocaust Survivor”, apparently addressed to Iranian president. But my favorite one is “UN stands for ‘Useless Nothing’”, gets the point across, doesn’t it?

And of course there was a lonely dissident, carrying “Peace through coexistence” sign. I hope he or she (I can’t be sure because of the crowd), meant to address it to president Ahmadinejad, as he is the one talking about wiping countries off the map. But I doubt he’ll listen.

More pictures annotated

Crowds completely filled Hammarskjold Plaza

More people were standing on both sides of Second Avenue (back of the shot)

Another shot of “Christians United for Israel” signs

The podium located near First Avenue is visible on the background

Thursday, September 21, 2006

…in exchange for peace

If the title did catch your attention, you must have recognized in it second part of the “land in exchange for peace” principle of the infamous Middle East Peace Process. The one that brought about establishment of permanent terrorist bases inside Israel (often referred to as “Palestinian Authority”) and, more recently, ethnic cleansing of Gaza Strip (a.k.a. “disengagement” or “unilateral withdrawal”). But, in order to examine the issue in a more abstract way, we can skip the first part since it does not matter what you give up: land, property or freedom…

Because to call things what they are, giving up anything in exchange for peace is a capitulation – surrender under enemy threat. “Give it up or we’ll attack (or keep attacking) you”. Similar but slightly different and, perhaps less misleading, approach is often used by street muggers who offer “valet in exchange for life” deals to their victims. And yet no one tries to call that a “diplomatic” process (yet).

But already second (or is it third) White House administration, not even mentioning the media, keeps repeating this broad-day-rubbery-on-international-level formula, hoping that it will bring U.S. (not even talking about Middle East) anything but more terror, death, and destruction. Bill Clinton seemed so preoccupied with the Peace Process that he withdrew any retaliation for bombing of U.S.S. Cole thus emboldening terrorists for 9/11.

Now look, what does Al Qaeda want from us but to convert us to Islam? “Religious freedom in exchange for peace” anyone?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

No apology needed

I’m sure repeated apology issued by Vatican has noble intentions – they are doing what they can to stop the violence. But I doubt the “outraged”, church-burning mobs and their leaders really want an apology. In fact they attacked Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches as well Catholic ones. It’s a case of simple bullying. When what they really what to say is: “Hey, we just want to rough you up, don’t ruin it with your apologies!”

Monday, September 18, 2006

Why can’t we all just get along?

This is often asked as a rhetorical question. But it’s very important to understand why we cannot, on a very basic level. And it has nothing to do with misunderstanding, in case you were wondering. We cannot because it does not make sense, from “bad guys” point of view, to do so. Here’s why:

Suppose you had something, something others could just take from you, and get away with it. Why wouldn’t they?

Moral reasons: No way, people always come up with good moral justifications for taking what’s not theirs. Try “need it more than you do”, “could make a better use of it” or “deserved it more in the first place”, just to name a few.

You don’t have anything others want: Unlikely, your property, freedom, even your life is always something someone wants to take. Why not, if they can?

What if everyone had everything they ever wanted or needed: There is not such thing, everyone could always use some more.

In truth, the only way to deal with it is to invest in strength and be ready to use it. In a law abiding society, we invest in strength of the law enforcement. But when the threat comes from beyond our borders the only thing that can protect us is our military.

It’s because the only good and practical case to be left alone is to be defensible. So while we can’t all just get along, we can live in peace, but only when we are strong enough to defend our land, our property, our freedom and our lives, and are prepared to undertake anything to do so.

Everything is the world has a price. Being strong and ready to fight, and fight when we have to, is just the price to be free, to be happy and sometimes even to be alive.